Osteonecrosis | What is Osteonecrosis?

What is Osteonecrosis?

It is also known as avascular necrosis, is a condition that causes restricted blood supply to bones, resulting in premature death of cells. The ailment most commonly affects the coxa (hip) and scapula (shoulder), but is also seen in the patella (knee joint), ginglymus (elbow), carpus (wrist) and talocrural joint (ankle).

If it is not treated, the lack of blood flow to the bone will result in deterioration of bone matter, leading to arthritis and possible collapse. It can have several causes, such as various bone diseases, overuse of anabolic steroids, alcohol abuse, ineffective pressure recovery from deep-sea diving, dislocation and fracture. Some other non bone-related diseases have also been known to cause or exacerbate osteonecrosis, such as diabetes and gout. In rare cases, it can occur without any traceable cause – in which case it is labeled “idiopathic osteonecrosis”.


Osteonecrosis is notoriously difficult to detect in its early stages, as the condition is not associated with any pain or external symptoms until the damage has worsened to a significant degree. At later stages, osteonecrosis will result in ever-increasing pain, which may become extremely difficult to manage in case of collapse. The disease can also result in limited maneuverability in the affected joints, and it can permanently affect the gait of a patient if the damage to the hip or knee is sufficient.

Osteonecrosis is effectively impossible to prevent, as its causes are so varied and the progression of the disease is so poorly understood. Patients who wish to minimize the risk of osteonecrosis developing later in life can do so by avoiding over-use of steroids and alcohol, and taking care to follow correct decompression techniques after deep-sea diving.Your physician may suggest one or more scans to determine the extent of the disease, such as CT, MR, bone scans and x-days.


The treatment for osteonecrosis varies depending on the condition that caused the disease to begin with. In the majority of cases, patients with osteonecrosis will need to undergo surgery in order to excise the dead bone tissue and prevent further damage. The effectiveness of surgery varies greatly depending on the age, gender, weight and overall lifestyle and medical history of the patient in question. The bone disease can be eradicated entirely or it can result in permanent damage.

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